New Centre to promote dialogue between FTSE350 audit committees and investors

Hermes Fund Managers, RPMI Railpen Investments and USS, three leading institutional investors in the UK and internationally, and Mazars, have announced the launch of the Centre for Audit Committee & Investor Dialogue.

It comes at a time of heightened awareness among investors of the critical role played by independent, high quality audits, and the need for improved understanding of the work of audit committees.

The Centre will provide regular opportunities for discussion between audit committee chairs of FTSE350 companies and leading institutional investors on topics of mutual interest.  Where helpful, a short report on issues discussed and emerging views will be made available to all FTSE350 audit committee chairs.

It is envisaged that in its first year the Centre will focus on a range of topics such as developing more effective communication between audit committees and investors; risk management and internal audit; protecting auditor independence; audit tendering; and ensuring the annual report is an effective communication channel.

Ian Durant, chairman of Capital and Counties Properties PLC will chair the Centre. Ian is a chartered accountant and is chairman of the audit committees of Greene King PLC, Greggs PLC and Home Retail Group PLC. All these companies are members of the FTSE350. Ian says “I am delighted to chair this forum to facilitate audit committee and investor dialogue. There is a real need for audit committees to understand investors’ views on key issues within their remit and to have the opportunity to discuss these matters with investors.”

Paul Lee, a director of Hermes Investment Management with overall responsibility for the operational performance of Hermes stewardship activities internationally says “On behalf of the investor partners in the Centre, we believe it will have a real impact on bringing about a much needed enhancement in the dialogue between audit committees and investors.”

David Herbinet, UK head of Public Interest Markets at Mazars says “Mazars is committed to innovation in the audit market and we are therefore very pleased to be co-founders of the Centre. An auditor's primary responsibility is to the shareholders and so it is vital that there is effective dialogue between audit committees and investors.”  He added “Ian Durant's wealth of boardroom experience will be a great asset to the Centre.”

Press contact:
Louisa Howells, Mazars
P: +44 (0)20 7063 4142
M: +44 (0)7919 548 736